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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 July 2006, 08:26 GMT 09:26 UK
European press review
Paper Review
Review

Papers across Europe are concerned about events in the Middle East as Israeli forces clash with Hezbollah fighters on the Lebanese border and Israel continues its offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The anniversary of the rehabilitation of Alfred Dreyfus makes headlines in the French press, while German papers are divided over the European Commission's decision to fine Microsoft.

Spiral of violence

France's Liberation says the impression is that "henceforth anything, and this also includes the worst, may happen in the Middle East".

At the moment the spiral of violence seems unstoppable
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"Today Israel is not isolated but under attack, and war has not been this close for a long time."

The Spanish daily El Pais says the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers in Lebanon by the pro-Iranian Islamist group Hezbollah has stirred up "the hornets nest again".

Austria's Die Presse believes Israel is right to react to Hezbollah's "provocation".

"It is justified, and not strange, if Israel describes the abduction of its soldiers by Hezbollah militiamen as an act of war," the paper says.

But it warns the country against invading Lebanon.

Such a move would only help "prophets of the apocalypse" such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it argues.

Switzerland's Le Temps sees only losers.

"This is a nightmare for the many Lebanese who are trying to get Hezbollah to occupy the same place as the other factions and to bring their country back to a normal life," the paper says.

Today we are paying the price for the fact that the USA, Europe and the UN did not force Israel and the Palestinians to make concessions a long time ago
Die Tageszeitung

Meanwhile, it adds, the Palestinians risk being drawn into "an even deadlier maelstrom" while the Israelis are confronted with the memory of a "huge Lebanese trap, from which they took 22 years to extricate themselves".

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says any hope linked to Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip has been dashed.

"At the moment the spiral of violence seems unstoppable," the paper says.

Still in Germany, Die Tageszeitung says the "pointless escalation" of violence shows that the international community must intervene.

"Today we are paying the price for the fact that the US, Europe and the UN did not force Israel and the Palestinians to make concessions a long time ago."

And Spain's El Pais says the situation in Gaza "is so serious that the territory could be on the threshold of a humanitarian catastrophe without precedent".

It believes that both Hamas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are "acting irresponsibly" and urges the US and the EU to take "more drastic measures than simple calls for calm".

Dreyfus legacy

France's Le Monde leads on a ceremony held in Paris in the presence of President Jacques Chirac to mark the centenary of the rehabilitation of the Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus.

The paper recalls that the case "deeply divided France" between 1895, when the captain was convicted of treason on trumped-up spying charges in an anti-Semitic conspiracy, and 1906, when he was vindicated.

It says the defence of human rights and the rejection of racism and anti-Semitism were at the heart of President Chirac's speech, which it publishes in full.

Serbia's Danas says the rehabilitation of Dreyfus marked the rebirth of the French republic and shaped the values it is based on today.

"The ongoing interest in the Dreyfus affair shows its long-term significance," the paper writes.

'Grotesque'

Germany's Die Welt says the European Commission ruling on Microsoft is at odds with the principles of a market economy.

It is to the credit of Commissioner Kroes and the EU monopolies authorities that they are continuing to take tough action against the software giant
Berliner Zeitung

"From a liberal point of view, the accusations are grotesque," the paper says.

The Commission fined Microsoft more than $350m for anti-competitive practices and said the company had failed to comply with an earlier ruling to share technical information with its rivals.

The ruling that Microsoft failed to provide sufficient information about "company secrets" betrays an "anti-entrepreneurial" spirit, it argues.

But the Berliner Zeitung says the decision by Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes is good news for customers.

"It is to the credit of Commissioner Kroes and the EU monopolies authorities that they are continuing to take tough action against the software giant founded by Bill Gates," the paper says.

The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.





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